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At the end of 2016/beginning of 2017 I did not write down official New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, I spent December reflecting back on this past year and all the craziness it held, trying to get a grasp of it all:
- the conclusion of a 2-year home remodel, which I initially thought would take 6 months (we saved thousands of dollars, though in exchange it took a lot longer)
- my husband graduating with his MBA, going to class at night while working during the day
- the subsequent job change
- parenting for several months on my own
- and a move to a place with no current support network.
Not only did we move, but we moved into a rental house; a temporary situation we decided previously was a good decision while we learn the area.
Reflecting back on the year, there was a lot to take in. My reality from this time a year ago till today is vastly different. A year ago, I could not have even guessed we would be at the point we are now.
How am I then to look forward a year and know anything at all about what will happen?
I can’t. I couldn’t if I tried.
What I can do is think of habits or areas of life I would like to work on, setting myself up for success, hopefully, no matter what the future holds. Here are a few of the areas I would like to work on this year:
- Putting the “home” part back into “homemaking”. Increasing the laughter in our home, decreasing the ‘stuff’, making it feel calm and uncluttered, these are all areas which need improvement and would provide beneficial results in other areas.
- Being more consistant in use of my early morning hours – writing blog posts, visiting Swagbucks, getting a load of laundry ready to begin washing, etc. Along with this would be going to be at a decent time, so as to be able to wake up at 5 a.m. While it may seem early to some of you, I really do like those early hours better than the late one; I am more productive during those times.
- Planning ahead consistently for those normal life events – whether this is a meal plan, a school lesson plan for the month, or a plan for when to do laundry, having these aides in place will reduce the amount of decisions I need to make every day. I will gladly take any extra brain power I can get. My consistancy this past year with these areas would ebb and flow, depending on what else was weighing on my emotions and calendar. I want to get back to setting aside certain days or times for these events, rather than doing them as they happen to pop into my head.
- Challenging myself to do some of the things which have scared me, things outside my comfort zone but which really are more ‘new’ than ‘scary’. Or even things I have for too long said, “I am not good at that … This is an area I am really bad at..” While I may never be someone to dive to the deepest trench in the ocean or become president (of the country or of a large business), that does not mean I should not continue to challenge myself.
- Be more optimistic in terms of how I view myself. Okay, maybe “optimistic” is not the appropriate word; what I do know is that I often find myself referring to negative aspects of my personality or apologizing for things which others may not even notice. Instead of working to improve, I am so focused on my failures I miss what is going past. Instead of sharing sunshine and flowers with others, I am focused on how I scuffed the floor last time. Who cares about the floor?! Move on, already! Open the windows and let some sunshine in! (Enough, I will stop with the exclamation marks.)
In general, I want to get back to the roots of who I am, of who I want to be. That is something I feel I have lost these past several years while feeling, instead, like I was only trying to survive the day/week/season of life.
While I hesitate to call anything a “New Year’s Resolution”, to set a theme for the year, or to give myself yet another thing to feel guilty over, there are items which happen to be starting now. This is in large part to due to the timing of the move, no more home remodel going on, or that fact that my normal month to feel this way (November) had enough of its own going-ons that it did not need any more.
One of the items under “Challenging myself to do things I said I couldn’t” is to get down a routine with Swagbucks, and other similar sites, in order to not only pay for this next year’s home school supplies, but also the cost of hosting this blog and gardening supplies, albeit limited compared to years’ past. I do not have set number on hand right at the moment, though I will begin to gather them soon. What I do know is that all together this will come to a few hundred dollars. ($100 being the equivalent of 10,000 points, called SB).
Whatever activities I choose to do, in order to earn SB, will have to fit into my normal life. I can not take an hour or two every day to sit clicking a screen, babysitting a point counter. This is where having a smart phone has helped.
Years ago, my husband suggested we switch from our flip phone to a ‘smart’ phone, I bulked. We no longer were on a set contract with our service provider, the phone we had made good calls, and if I wanted to see the internet, I would use a computer. “If someone wants me, they can call. At least they should be polite enough to think me worthy of a few minutes talk time rather than a quick note written in bad english.” (a.k.a texting) Why spend hundreds of dollars for something I found caused people to be rude and annoying. I did not need a ‘smart’ phone. I did not want a ‘smart’ phone.
Then my husband came home with information about a phone service provider option. All my reasons for not doing it began to pale in comparison to the cost savings. We could save 60% on our phone bill. Each month. No contract.
After discussions back and forth, running the numbers to see how long before we would be saving money, we became the owners of a ‘smart’ phone. It took some time for me to figure out how this new gadget in my life might begin to work for me, rather than against me. And, yes, texting has won me over for the most part.
Using my phone to help me earn and save money has been one of the best features I have enjoyed. It has taken some time, but I have found things that work well for me. I have also found things that did not work, but they are no longer on my phone and so I do not really remember what they all were. 😉
Now that the holidays are over, a lot of us have gone into savings mode again as we rebuild our bank accounts from all that gift buying! Some of us have already started saving for the 2017 holidays! If you’re looking to extend your budget or just stay within it, Swagbucks is a great resource for that.
You’ve probably seen me write about Swagbucks a lot on here. It’s a site where you earn SB for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart, Target, or PayPal cash.
While you may not grow so rich you lose the sense of the value of a dollar, it can help ease your budget. Whether you use it to pay for today’s needs (utility bill, groceries, restaurant outing …) or tomorrow’s wants (rainy day fund, Christmas/birthday gifts, …)
To make the impact on your bank account even greater, you can earn a bonus when you initially sign up.
Here’s how you get your bonus:
1. Sign up using this link
2. Earn 300 SB total before 2/1/17. You’ll get a $3 (300 SB) bonus for it!
3. If you spend at least $25 through Swagbucks Shop* you’ll get another $2 (200 SB) bonus on top of the cash back you’ll get from shopping. If you have some shopping to do online, just go to Swagbucks first and visit the store through them. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll get SB points for every dollar you spend (on top of the bonus)!
That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real.
So far this month, during the past 10 days, I have earned over $10 (1033 points). This has been spread out between points earn for shopping online, a lot of video watching, several surveys answered, daily polls, bonuses for reaching daily goals, bonuses for finishing my Daily To-do list (on the left side of the home page), searching the web, and Swag Codes.
As I have begun to incorporate it into my daily routines, I have learned what works for me and what does not. For example, I do better at finding surveys in the morning. It also helps for me to start with a search first thing, followed by the other items on the To Do list. After that, I focus on watching SBTV on my phone, then short clips on other apps.
Combining earning from this month and some from last, I was able to redeem for a PayPal gift card, which was then used to pay for several items on Ebay. (The particular item shown definitely falls into the category of A Want.) Of course, I clicked through on Swagbucks before finalizing the purchase on Ebay and will earn more SB back in the near future. Every penny counts, and soon they begin to add up.
*You must receive your shopping SB before March 1st